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Pacer girls' heroics run out against Jesuit

Lakeridge downs Forest Grove in OT before falling 1-0 to the No. 1 Crusaders

VERN UYETAKE - Natalie Bristol battles for a ball during Lakeridge's narrow victory over Forest Grove.The Lakeridge girls soccer team's playoff run certainly wasn't lacking in dramatics this year. The Pacers were ultimately taken down by No. 1 Jesuit 1-0 last week, giving the Crusaders one of their better challenges of the season.

But that loss followed a thrilling 2-1 overtime victory over playoff darling Forest Grove.

In the past two seasons, the Vikings have become a team that the opposition dreads seeing in the playoffs, particularly if Forest Grove is an underdog.

One year removed from making the quarterfinals as the No. 31 team in the state, the Vikings tallied a win over No. 9 Clackamas in the opening round and had their sites set on the No. 8 Pacers.

Lakeridge had the majority of the possession in the first half but Forest Grove's defense was solid at bending but not breaking.

However, as the Pacers upped the pressure, they were rewarded with five minutes to play in the opening half.

Natalie Bristol received the ball with space and scored with a well-placed shot, giving her team a 1-0 advantage at the half.

Forest Grove played with a more offensive mindset as it trailed with 40 minutes to play. The result was a more up and down contest with more chances for both teams.

The Vikings were able to capitalize midway through the second half, scoring on a long shot to the top corner of the net.

But Lakeridge wasn't discouraged. The Pacers continued to play their game, working the ball to the outside and sending in crosses to its tall and dangerous strikers.

The contest went to overtime and appeared destined to be settled by penalty kicks, an area where the Vikings have thrived in recent years.

With 1:03 remaining in the second and final extra period, Lakeridge earned one more corner kick. Bristol put the ball into the box where Sophie French got a head on it, scoring to propel the Pacesr into the next round.

Lakeridge then had a difficult task ahead of it, facing No. 1 Jesuit on the road in cold and wet conditions.

It was a slow opening half but Jesuit had the better possession, getting off eight shots in the first 40 minutes while Lakeridge goalie Kayla Friesen made a pair of nice saves.

The game was tied 0-0 at the half but the Crusaders continued to put the pressure on the Lakeridge defense.

The Pacers struggled getting the ball down and stringing passes together and its best opportunities came on set plays.

Sophie French sent a long free kick wide and the team came close to getting a good shot on a scramble after a corner kick.

Midway through the second half, Jesuit hit a hard shot off the crossbar. One minute later, Jesuit earned a cornerkick that Lakeridge struggled to clear. The Crusaders scored following a scramble and went up 1-0.

With 10 minutes to play in the game, Lakeridge had its best opportunity. The Pacers drew Jesuit's keeper away from the net following a corner and French hit her shot inches wide.

Lakeridge applied its most pressure of the game in the final 10 minutes but couldn't get the equalizer.

It was still a terrific season for the Pacers as, once again, they played their best soccer at the end of the year. The team will graduate eight seniors this year.